Interview by Megan Krigbaum
What was your culinary education?
There was no formal education. I was a '60s person, right? So after school, I did this and that. At one time, I was going to Europe to visit friends and one of my roommates was the head waitress at a French restaurant here in town and I needed some cash for the trip. And she said, "Well, I think they need somebody to peel potatoes and stuff in the kitchen. Why don't you apply for that job?" So I did. And I worked there for a couple months, and I went off to Europe; when I came back, there was a job available doing the same thing, pretty much. And the next thing I knew—well, that was that. I learned on the job. It suited me. I wouldn't have known that without being in that situation. It never occurred to me to be a chef. It just turned out that it was a good match once I discovered it.
Why do you think French food was such a good match?
Well, I always liked France. I think maybe just the aesthetic of cooking was the good match—I just happened to find it in a French restaurant. It might have happened somewhere else. This is a little, tiny French restaurant. It was in the early '70s. It was at a time when people were just starting to be interested in food again in this country. All of a sudden, people became interested in ingredients and techniques—that was just starting to happen here—so you felt like you were on the cutting edge of something. That kept it interesting. It was just good luck. It was the right place, right time sort of thing. So I learned pretty much on the job—I learned French first, French technique and all that, which is a good foundation for anyone—any kind of cooking, really. And I had grown up in a family that had good cooks, so I was used to good food. I think that helped me as well. There was never any formal training.